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Wednesday, May 30 2012
The Kinsfolk Of Jesus Of Nazareth
The English word "kinsfolk" may be defined as "people descended from a common ancestor," or simply "family" (the "kin" in king is based upon that same root word). The Holy Bible provides us with a surprising amount of information about the kinsfolk of Jesus of Nazareth during His human lifetime. As we will read in this study, His parents, brothers, sisters and some of His cousins are specifically identified by name.
While Joseph was not the father of Jesus, Joseph fulfilled the role of a human father to Him - and the Messiah obeyed the Fifth Commandment to "Honour thy father and thy mother" through Joseph and Mary i.e. "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them" (see below). Joseph was a righteous "just man" who was without doubt the best choice available.
We first read of Joseph when he was engaged to be married to a young virgin, who then found herself to be with child.
"1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily." (Matthew 1:18-29 KJV)
Joseph's "not willing to make her a public example" was more than just a concern that she would have been an outcast for the rest of her life. Mary may not have had a life because, in some areas, the death penalty was applied to those regarded guilty of fornication or adultery. Mary of course had done nothing wrong, as Joseph was told by "the angel of the Lord."
"1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord [see Appearances Of The LORD God] appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The Scriptures are very plain regarding what then happened: Joseph "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son." As we will read, Joseph and Mary, as normal human beings, had a completely natural family thereafter.
"1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." (Matthew 1:24-25 KJV)
Although they were then established residents of the north, in Galilee, the ancestry of Joseph and Mary was in the south, in Judea - specifically, in Bethlehem. After they were married ("espoused" means married), their firstborn arrived, in Bethlehem, just as Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem for the census (in effect, and perhaps literally, the Messiah had a Bethlehem "birth certificate").
"2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city [see also Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate?].
According to the instructions given to Joseph, the family sought refuge in Egypt until the death of Herod.
"2:16 Then Herod [see A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty], when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men [see Why Did The Magi Come?], was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
When Herod died, the family made their way back to Nazareth (the valuable gifts from the Magi likely provided the living for them, since Joseph was forced to leave his business in Nazareth for years).
"2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt [see The Flight Into Egypt], 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
The last mention of Joseph was during the incident in which the twelve year old Messiah remained in Jerusalem after Passover. Notice that the people that Joseph and Mary had travelled with from Galilee to Judea included "their kinsfolk." While we will read of some who are identified by name, Jesus of Nazareth had many other "kinsfolk."
"2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover [see The Harvest Prophecies and Calendar of Christ's Holy Days].
As stated above, Joseph and Mary had other children, in the natural way, after the virgin birth of the Messiah. His brothers were named "James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas" (not to be confused with Judas the traitor; see Righteous Judas). He also had "sisters"; their names and number weren't recorded, but there were at least two.
"13:54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 13:56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 13:57 And they were offended in him.
The Messiah's "a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house" was also something that He experienced in His own home, for "neither did his brethren believe in him" (while some claim that the "brethren" were the apostles or some of the other disciples, that cannot be true because, as well as the names not matching, they all did believe in Him - that's what made them His apostles and disciples).
"7:2 Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand [see What Did Jesus Christ Teach At Tabernacles?]. 7:3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 7:4 For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world. 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him." (John 7:2-5 KJV)
Notice very carefully that "his brethren" and "his disciples" are spoken of separately. His brothers did eventually come to realize that Jesus was the Messiah, but only later did they do so.
"2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
John The Baptist: "Behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son"
As explained above (as we will explain further below), the Messiah had kinsfolk in the north, in Galilee. He also had kinsfolk in the south (keeping in mind that that's where they were from too - the reason for the journey to Bethlehem where Jesus was born). Among them was a cousin of Mary, a righteous woman named Elizabeth, who was going to give birth to a cousin of Jesus who would become one of the most famous people of the Bible - John the Baptist.
"1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
After the announcement, Mary journeyed down to the Judean hill country where she remained with Elizabeth for a few months.
"1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." (Luke 1:39-45 KJV)
After Mary had returned home (with her own pregnancy to attend to), John the Baptist was born to Mary's cousin Elizabeth.
"1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
When Jesus was baptized, it was done by His cousin John.
"3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
The Apostles James and John: "Salome ... His mother's sister"
Immediately after His baptism, the Messiah successfully endured the "temptation of Christ" (Matthew 4:1-11). The ministry of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for beginning of the Ministry of the Messiah. John was arrested not long after his baptism of Jesus, thereby bringing to an end that family connection to Christ's ministry. But another family connection to Christ's ministry then began; as we will see, at least two of the twelve apostles were first cousins of Jesus.
"4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison [see John's Congregation], he departed into Galilee; 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
James and John are not immediately identified as cousins of Jesus. But consider the well-known incident when they came to Jesus with a special request. What made them think that they had some sort of a right to ask for favoritism? (keep in mind that royalty is based upon family i.e. kin, king).
"10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 10:36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? 10:37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 10:38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 10:39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 10:40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. 10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John." (Mark 10:35-41 KJV)
As further detailed, by Matthew, their mother also came with them in the request. What made her think that she had some sort of a right to ask for favoritism? Again, keep in mind that royalty is based upon family i.e. kin, king.
"20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." (Matthew 20:20-21 KJV)
As we will read below, the answer to how the apostles James and John were related to Jesus is found in the Biblically-stated relationship of the mother of James and John to the mother of Jesus - they were sisters, and therefore their children were first cousins.
Standing among the women near the cross with Jesus' mother Mary was Salome, who was Mary's sister, and therefore Jesus' aunt:
"19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25 KJV)
Note also that at least two of the women who came with Jesus from Galilee "and ministered unto him" were His mother Mary and His aunt Salome.
Who were Salome's children? The apostle James and John - who were therefore first cousins of Jesus. Among the people standing at the foot of the Cross that day were the Messiah's mother, an aunt and a cousin, the son of the aunt.
"4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them." (Matthew 4:21 KJV)
As he was about to die, Jesus commanded that His mother Mary (then obviously a widow, otherwise the command would not have been given) go to live with the apostle John. Mary then went to live with her nephew John, where her sister Salome was either already living (Christ's logic for the choice), or would be, according to the custom of kinsfolk taking care of their own.
"19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Fact Finder: In what ways were Jesus very similar to his cousin John the Baptist? How were they different?
This Day In History, May 30
70: As prophesied by the Messiah about 40 years earlier (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Coming Of The Messiah and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?), Roman legions (see Legions Of Men And Angels) under the command of Titus Vespasianus (see A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots) breached the wall of Jerusalem.
1416: Jerome of Prague was burned as a heretic at the Council of Constance (convened by the Emperor Sigismund, and Antipope John XXIII; see The Struggle For The Papacy).
1498: Christopher Columbus left Spain with six ships on his third voyage of exploration to the New World.
1536: King Henry VIII married Jane Seymour, his third wife (who had been "a lady-in-waiting," in more ways than one, to his first two wives), 11 days after his second wife, Anne Boleyn (who Henry defied the Pope and created the Church of England to marry), was beheaded for alleged adultery.
1539: Hernando de Soto landed in Florida with 600 hundred soldiers in search of gold.
1631: La Gazette, the first newspaper of France, began publishing.
1832: The Rideau Canal, linking the Ottawa River at Ottawa (Canada's capital city) with Lake Ontario at Kingston, was opened to traffic.
1848: Under an end-of-war treaty signed in February 1848 and ratified on this day by Mexico, the U.S. took New Mexico and California as well as parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado from Mexico in return for the negligible sum $15 million.
1859: The bell known as "Big Ben" rang for the first time in London.
1876: The Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz was deposed and replaced by his nephew Murat V (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1913: In a treaty signed in London to end the first Balkan War between the Balkan League (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro) and the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all of its European territory.
1942: 1,047 Royal Air Force bombers set off to bomb Cologne in the R.A.F.'s first "thousand plane raid" of the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).
1962: Adolph Eichmann, 56, Nazi war criminal, was hanged at the Ramla Prison in Israel after being found guilty of 1961 war crimes trial. Israeli agents captured and returned him from Argentina in 1960. His body was incinerated (just as were millions of holocaust victims that Eichmann and the other Nazis were responsible for; see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) and the ashes were dumped at sea.
1972: The Lod Airport Massacre in Tel Aviv by the "Japanese Red Army," on behalf of the "Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine," killed 24 people and wounded 78.
1989: A 33-foot "Goddess of Democracy" statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.
1998: 5,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in northern Afghanistan.